The Pandemic Silent Treatment

The What & Why to Silence:

On March 28th 2020, I intentionally chose to go silent for a specific time block outside of my normal meditation//coffee & reading time. I came up with this idea in the middle of a conversation with my roommate, two weeks into quarantine, after realizing three quarters of our daily talks consisted of the pandemic: what’s to come, what the numbers look like, how it transmits, how sad it is, and the list goes on…so. far. on.

As a healthcare worker at a major hospital I have to face this pandemic head on and there’s no silencing that. So I deliberately did what I actually have control over by getting silent and shutting off the input regarding one of the most globally stressful situations of this lifetime.

I went silent from 10am-6pm and this was my first trial of really pulling the reins on external pandemic exacerbating inputs like social media, television, news sources, population count, and most importantly: social conversation. I intentionally chose not to engage in these interactions for three reasons: to stop inflicting anxiety on myself, to listen to my mental chatter and what it was insinuating, and my emotions about a global pandemic that feels like war-time.

Now, I don’t discredit the severity of the pandemic. We have EVERY right to be fearful and anxious about the future. This virus is no joke. But are we seriously willing to let this run our internal lives? Are we going to let this take us from our present moments where there’s potential for anything to come into our being? I’m not- and it’s my professional duty to fight this virus on the front line.

These inputs have physiological impacts because living in fear reduces our immune system, increases our cortisol stress hormone, raises our blood pressure, and doesn’t allow us to stay in touch with our present selves which I find is the greatest benefit of Stay at Home//Quarantine//Shelter in Place laws.

So that’s why I opted for intentional silence. I chose to tune out the chaos and tune in to understanding how it has been affecting me and my internal peace which ultimately gave me back the reins to my own approach to life.

How Intentional Silence is Beneficial:

The chaos was taking me away from hearing and feeling my own internal environment. It took time away from my day because it was all I could focus on in my free time. There are a lot of positives and educational aspects to external input. However, it can also be a distraction from the internal environment hindering us from understanding how to genuinely process what we really want to feel.

Intentional silence permits discernment between induced fear and truly navigating our emotions. It breaks the suppression of our joyous freedom which allows us to flourish. It gave me the opportunity to check in with the true state of my internal environment, find strength, and continue to carry-on with resilience all the while building better emotional-intelligence for the days to come.

The great thing about emotions is that they allow you to feel deep sorrows and bursts of joy; they’re a regular part of life. However, we cannot navigate emotions if we are constantly smothering them with incessant fear in conversation and media. So I chose to intentionally work on redirecting my sail to navigate hazy winds with silence and intentional observation.

A Tale of Two Wolves:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

An Unknown Legend

Navigating My Experience:

Choosing silence permitted me to truly navigate the processing of my emotions on the Corona Virus as healthcare worker and find strength as a human being. This practice lifted the suppression of my joys, relaxation, and internal peace by addressing the fear and letting it go. I broke free of this suppression close to my second hour of silence. I was able to feel parts of my energy centers open to invite love and excitement for myself. It was truly relieving. This opening motivated me to continue manifesting and creating abundance in my life that will grow starting in that moment and well past the pandemic. After all, as this time becomes history in the coming years, our strength and new accomplishments will shine through and remain.

How’d I stay on track? I was sure to set boundaries which included halting the use of social media flooded with Corona topics. I chose not to listen to music and distract my thoughts. I chose not to engage in television inducing fear or even binging a show to distract me from fear. I rarely took on conversation (there were times where I spoke to a family member or two and with my roommate). But I vowed to my boundaries and saw myself out of the situation if something came up about the Corona Virus. Ultimately, I explicitly remained mindful and gave myself the choice to create a better outcome through the day as I intended to.

The challenge? Shutting out internal emotions and fear was not an option. I let that shit come up and I listened. I consoled myself and I asked, “Is this a real worry related to my job or my own health in this very moment? Is there anything I can do to change any of that right now?” The answer typically was “No.” But I could change the fearful emotion. I could redirect it.

To redirect, I used follow up questions in my internal conversation: “What can I focus on today, right now, as I prepare my coffee this morning?” Here’s a novel idea: start with just preparing the coffee. I became mindful of what I was doing in the moment; basking in the smell of the beans, taking note to the grounded texture needed for my favorite French press, and moving on to thinking about what breakfast my body craved. I savored my food and expressed gratitude for cooking at home so I could slow down and pay attention to what I chose to let come into my body, my energy. I was present in what I was doing right there, right then.

As I got deeper into my block of time my fear for the future dissipated and I became more present. In these mindful moments I was feeding and nurturing myself. I refused to let external input and internal fear take over because I chose to nurture. I took special note of the birds singing, the sun on my face, the pleasure of dance, and even just peace in my internal quiet. I was permitting joy and I was working through the fear before it worked through me. As a Reiki Master, it’s incredibly obvious to me now how negative emotions like fear and hatred begin to store themselves in our body the less we consciously address them as they arise. You really must navigate in the moment (unless it’s an emergency situation and you gotta put that shit aside for a minute…that’s the purpose fight or flight, duh).

In The End:

The metaphor to my experience is like nurturing a garden. In a garden, we plant food that fuels our body and we plant flowers that make us happy. Sometimes a garden acquires weeds and pests that take away from that fuel and happiness we intended to grow. Our fear that stems from the external input represents those pests and weeds. If you let that shit take over, the strength and importance of your garden that fuels your livelihood weakens and feels less attended to. We must weed out what doesn’t serve us and we must commit to what does in order to keep fueling to good stuff.

I am now able to discern when I am being obsessively fearful of the Corona Virus and when I am being practical about my own health and safety in my assistant nursing position. There are times when I get a little nervous seeing or hearing information about a deadly global pandemic and the crisis we face. But as a healthcare professional, with a passionate drive, I chose to sacrifice when I signed up. That means I choose to fight this bitch of a virus the way our military chooses sacrifice to fight for our country. We may not always be ready to go to war but that is what you choose if one day you knew you would be called.

To my fellow healthcare workers: I ask all of you who are on the front line to remember to take time to re-center yourself. No matter how unfairly you believe you are being treated remember that you can only control your inner actions and emotions so treat yourself. If you feel passionate enough about a safety issue in your workplace: speak up, talk to your managers, ask questions, and call your local government officials anonymously. If you’re getting by with regulations like I am: take silence, start your garden, read a good book, engage in your beautiful family and environment.

To my community: I ask you to find strength in taking silence. This is a chance to work on your triggers, ask what your true passions are and find ways to make them evolve. Take on the confidence that ‘this, too, shall pass’, deliberately find strength, and be a positive source of encouragement for your front line workers and family members. Do your part and stay home. Stop the spread.

It’s okay to break down. It’s okay to feel sad, worried, fearful, and hopeless for your friends, family, and yourself. But it’s also okay to draw upon your inner primal human nature to fight, be resilient, and emit hope because it’s what we really need in this time. We need to change the global vibration and that begins with you. If it takes a day of silence to impact your next week, then do it.

Mantra:

I am present in what I am doing right here, right now. Where am I? -Erin Bird

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